Dayot Upamecano is reportedly Liverpool’s top target on a four-man shortlist drawn up to find a replacement for Joe Gomez.
The Reds are facing a defensive injury crisis with both Gomez and Virgil van Dijk ruled out for months.
Gomez underwent successful surgery on Wednesday but may not play again this season, leaving Liverpool with Joel Matip as the only senior centre-back fit and available.
Brazilian Fabinho is poised to return after the international break, while free agent Daryl Janmaat has been linked as a short-term solution; but Jurgen Klopp could now be forced to dip into the transfer market in January to provide more options long-term.
The Athletic report Liverpool were planning to wait until next summer to swoop for Upamecano, who would be available for £40million.
Upamecano, 22, has impressed for Red Bull Leipzig and attracted interest from Man Utd and Arsenal in the summer before penning a contract extension.
A clause in his new deal allows him to leave Leipzig at the end of the season providing his release clause is met – though Liverpool may look to plug the gap before then.
Other defenders on Liverpool’s shortlist include Brighton’s Ben White, who has had a decent start to life in the Premier League.
Leeds failed with two bids for the 23-year-old in the summer, though, and Liverpool would likely have to bid upwards of £30m if they want to tempt Brighton into a sale.
Reds chiefs feel there is better value to be found abroad, with Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, 20, and Torino’s Gleison Bremer, 23, also on their radar.
Former Liverpool legend Steve Nicol feels his old club should be going all out to sign their prime target, though.
How should Liverpool deal with their defensive crisis? Have your say below.
Nicol told ESPN FC : “I think right now Liverpool absolutely, because of this injury, have to go out and spend a lot of money.
“Joe Gomez, at 23 years of age, has already had two major surgeries. That means the chances of it happening again rise.
“You’re talking about percentages of Liverpool defending [the title], you talk about percentages of a player having another bad injury.
“So I think this forces them into it and they should go and get Upamecano.”